Meditation has benefitted me immensely.
After stumbling on the practice serendipitously through a friend, I can truthfully say it’s become a central tenet of my life.
The funny thing is, I never would have guessed it would be so life-changing.
If you’d had asked me a few years ago, I would have told you that meditation was a “woo-woo” spiritual practice that wasn’t for me.
Plus, all the different types, from metta to open-monitoring, had me pretty confused.
I’m so grateful that I was proven wrong though.
If you’re on the fence about giving meditation a go, or looking for some guidance on where to start, I hope this list of recommended books will be helpful.
The Best Books on Meditation
1. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is a book about the philosophy of Zen Buddhism, written by Shunryu Suzuki, a Buddhist monk and teacher.
This book is a compilation of some of his teachings on the subject.
- The first chapter of the book is called “The Purpose of This Book.” In it, Suzuki discusses the different ways that people approach learning about Zen Buddhism. He says that there are two main approaches: those who are looking for wisdom, and those who are looking to put an end to their suffering. He says that this book is for both groups of people, and that he will discuss the concepts of Zen Buddhism in a way that is both easy to understand and relevant to modern life.
- The second chapter is called “What Is Zen?” In it, Suzuki discusses the history and philosophy of Zen Buddhism. He explains that Zen is not a religion, but rather a way of thinking that can be applied to any religion or lifestyle. He says that Zen is based on the idea that everything is connected, and that true understanding can only be achieved when one sees the world in its entirety.
- The third chapter is called “What Is Enlightenment?” He says that enlightenment is not a state that can be achieved once and for all; rather, it is something that one must work towards constantly. He explains that enlightenment does not mean becoming something different, but rather realizing one’s true nature.
- The fourth chapter is called “How to Practice.” He says that practice should be done with sincerity and without expectations explaining that practice should not be limited to meditation or prayer; it should be incorporated into all aspects of life.
- The fifth chapter is called “Zazen (Sitting Meditation).” In it, Suzuki discusses the importance of zazen meditation in Zen practice, showing how zazen helps one to focus the mind and see things as they truly are. He also recommends sitting in a comfortable position with the spine straight and the eyes closed.
- The sixth chapter is called “Eating.” In it, Suzuki says that eating should be done slowly and with awareness, focusing on the taste and texture of food. He also recommends avoiding foods that are processed or unhealthy.
- The seventh chapter is called “Working.” He says that work should be done without haste or stress, and with a sense of purposefulness and detachment. He also recommends taking time for rest and relaxation after work.
2. The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science by Culadasa (John Charles Yates) and Matthew Immergut (Co-Author)
The Mind Illuminated is a comprehensive guide to meditation, which is divided into four sections:
- The Path
The Foundations section introduces the reader to the basics of meditation, including the benefits of mindfulness practice and the different stages of development that a meditator may experience. The section also includes a discussion of the mind-body connection and how meditation can be used to improve physical health and well-being.
The Practices section provides detailed instructions for practicing mindfulness, breath awareness, concentration, and insight meditation. The section also includes a chapter on “choiceless awareness” which teaches the meditator how to let go of judgment and attachment to thoughts and emotions.
The Path section discusses the different stages of spiritual development that a meditator may encounter on the journey to enlightenment. The section includes chapters on ethics, concentration, insight, and realization.
The Illumination section describes the final stages of enlightenment and offers advice for those who are seeking to achieve complete liberation. The section also includes a chapter on “living in harmony with nature” which teaches the reader how to live in accordance with the laws of nature.
Overall, The Mind Illuminated is an excellent guide to meditation that provides step-by-step instructions for practitioners at all levels of experience and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about meditation.
3. Get Some Headspace: 10 minutes can make all the difference by Andy Puddicombe
Get Some Headspace is written by Andy Puddicombe, a former monk who uses his own experiences as a basis for the book, which is designed to help the reader learn how to meditate and live in the moment.
The first section is devoted to explaining what meditation is and how it works.
Puddicombe breaks down meditation into its simplest form, and he makes it clear that anyone can do it, regardless of their experience or beliefs.
He also emphasizes the importance of practice, and he provides some tips on how to get started.
The second section of the book focuses on specific aspects of life that can be improved through meditation.
These include stress, relationships, work, and health.
Each chapter includes personal stories from Puddicombe’s own life, as well as practical advice on how to apply meditation to these areas.
The final section of the book is about presence, where Puddicombe discusses the benefits of living in the moment, and provides tips on how to make this a habit.
He also talks about the importance of mindfulness, and he offers exercises that can help cultivate this trait.
Get Some Headspace is an informative and helpful book on meditation.
Puddicombe’s writing is easy to read, and his personal stories provide valuable insight into the benefits of meditation.
The book is full of helpful tips and exercises, making it an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn more about this topic.
4. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Wherever You Go, There You Are is a book written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is also the founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).
The book discusses the importance of mindfulness and how it can be applied to everyday life.
Kabat-Zinn begins the book by discussing the definition of mindfulness and how it differs from other concepts such as attention and concentration, arguing that mindfulness is not a technique but rather a way of being that can be cultivated through practice.
Mindfulness is nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, which allows us to experience life more fully and connect with our inner wisdom.
Kabat-Zinn goes on to discuss the benefits of mindfulness, which include improved mental and physical health, reduced stress and anxiety, and greater happiness and well-being.
He provides case studies of people who have benefited from mindfulness-based interventions, including cancer patients, veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder, and pregnant women.
The second half of the book focuses on how to apply mindfulness in everyday life.
Kabat-Zinn provides a variety of exercises and practices that can be used to cultivate mindfulness, including body scan meditation, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and eating meditation.
He also discusses the importance of setting an intention for each day and being patient with oneself as one learns to live mindfully.
Wherever You Go, There You Are is an excellent introduction to mindfulness and its many benefits.
Kabat-Zinn provides clear instructions on how to practice mindfulness and offers a wealth of information on how to apply it in everyday life.
This book is a great choice for anyone interested wanting to start a meditation practice.
5. Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
In Real Happiness, Sharon Salzberg explores the different ways that people find happiness in their lives, suggesting that there are many paths to fulfillment and that no one route is better than any other.
Instead, what matters is finding what works for each individual.
Salzberg begins by discussing the role of mindfulness in finding happiness, explaining that it allows us to see clearly what is happening in the present moment, without judgment.
This not only helps us appreciate the good moments in life, but also learn from the bad ones.
Next, Salzberg discusses the importance of relationships in achieving happiness.
She argues that relationships provide us with both support and challenge, which are both necessary for growth.
Additionally, relationships allow us to connect with others and feel connected to something larger than ourselves.
Finally, Salzberg discusses the role of compassion in achieving happiness.
She explains that compassion allows us to see the suffering of others and to want to help relieve that suffering.
Compassion also allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, and to experience a sense of connection with the world as a whole.
Although sometimes my meditation practice wanes, I continue returning to the exercise for its positive effects.
Not only does it calm my overactive mind, but also allows me to enter the present moment more readily and enjoy what life has to offer.
If you are looking for books to guide you through your own meditation journey, I highly recommend the suggestions above, which have helped me enormously.